In surprise move, Louisiana insurance commissioner won't run for reelection

Greg Hilburn
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Louisiana Republican Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said he won't run for reelection next fall and instead will focus on shepherding legislation to address the state's growing property insurance crisis.

Donelon, the state's longest-serving insurance commissioner at 17 years, said he wants to take politics off the table while advocating for reforms that could prove controversial during the upcoming Legislative Regular Session that begins April 10.

He made the surprise announcement at the end of a press conference about the Insure Louisiana program that has offered $45 million in incentives for companies to write new property insurance policies along the state's hurricane-ravaged coast.

"I really think I can make more contributions by stepping outside the political arena to (advance the debate in the Legislature)," said Donelon, 78.

That leaves the door wide open for Baton Rouge Republican Tim Temple, the only candidate so far who has announced for the race.

Temple, a wealthy insurance executive, reported $1.04 million cash on hand for his campaign, which included $750,000 of his own money. Temple ran and lost in 2019 with Donelon getting 53% of the vote.

Jeremy Alford, publisher of LaPolitics Weekly and The Tracker, said Donelon's exit makes Temple the clear frontrunner.

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon speaks to the Press Club in Baton Rouge.

"He's now the leading candidate without a doubt," said Alford, who reported in December that Donelon might not run. "(Temple) ran a competitive race last time and he was already bringing the fight to Donelon again in this cycle."

But Alford said others might take another look at the race with Donelon opting out.

One of those won't be Republican River Ridge Sen. Kirk Talbot. "I am running for reelection to the Senate," Talbot said in a text.

More:Louisiana passes emergency bill to address insurance crisis: Will it work?

But former Sen. Ryan Gatti, R-Bossier City, said he is looking at the race.

"I'm considering it; we've already put a team together," Gatti said. "I think with (Donelon) out, you'll see more people enter the race."

Qualifying for the Oct. 14 primary election is Aug. 8-10.

Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.